Interview with an Author

My friends, I am behind schedule, running on fumes, and by the time you’re reading this I’ll be in the midst of the Black Friday insanity. Therefore there will be no post today and I instead urge you to head on over to Authors Answer #4, where I and ten other authors talk about what we would ask our favorite authors if we had the chance. Check it out and I’ll see you when the shopping madness is over!

If “No News is Good News”, what is Fake News?

I was still in grade school when this crazy thing we call the Internet really started to take off. I can still remember the day when our school got it’s first public-use computer. My best friend and I were two of the students chosen to check it out first. I can remember one of the first things we did was to set up our very first Hotmail email accounts. It was all rather exciting.

Since then the Internet has only grown and grown. It has become a place of endless information. A person can type almost anything into Google and come back with hundreds, if not thousands, of results. The Internet has allowed us to share news, information, thoughts and feelings, habits and hobbies, and anything else we can think of with people from the opposite side of the planet and everywhere in between. For the first time in human history we can know exactly what is going on on the other side of world as it is happening. That’s pretty damn amazing.

But while the ever-expanding World Wide Web is filled with a great many wonderful and helpful things, it is also rife with pitfalls and truly excellent methods to make one look excruciatingly foolish. Everything has become so fast, so instant, and so often irreversible, that it only takes a moment of not thinking clearly or a quick slip of the finger in order to do something dumb. It takes half a second to hit a “like” or “share” button, and in this day of rushed moments and instant gratification we often do so without even bothering to look twice at the thing that we’re allying ourselves with publicly.

The worst offenders of this, in my opinion, are Facebook users sharing “news”.

Facebook has become a great place to share things that are important to us. If we see a news report talking about something we feel strongly about, it is a simple thing for us to share that report on our Facebook wall where we know that it will be seen, and possibly re-shared, by our friends and family and hopefully lots of other people as well. This is a great way to get important issues out there.

It’s also a great way to make yourself look like a moron.

Too often, I’ve found, people have become apt to “like”, “share”, and leave complicated, emotion-fueled comments in response to big, scary-looking news stories…without ever once bothering to read the story.

This past Black Friday there was a very scary-sounding story floating around Facebook. It described a number of brutal deaths at the hands of insane shoppers, including one woman who had stabbed another woman to death in order to secure the last XBox One in Walmart. When I saw the story pop up on my Facebook feed I immediately raised a skeptical eyebrow and clicked on the link to read the whole article. It quickly became evident that the article was a joke. It got more and more foolish as it went on, describing complete nonsense and throwing several outright, completely obvious lies in near the end. Anyone who took the two minutes required to read the entire article would easily figure out that it was a load of bull. If they took an extra five seconds to Google the name of the news source they’d have found out that that particular website was a joke and satire news site, much like The Onion. Everything they report is made up.

From what I saw on my Facebook feed over the following few days, my husband and I were some of the only people who bothered to take that two minutes and five seconds out of our day. Multiple people on my Facebook feed shared that story, along with angry comments about how Black Friday is evil and the big corporations who support it should be ashamed of themselves. One such friend actually argued with people who commented back to tell him that the article was fake, only giving in when people started quoting the ridiculous end parts of the article that he hadn’t actually bothered to read.

These things happen on a daily basis now-a-days because people are much more willing to take the one second required to hit “share” than the two minutes required to fact-check and see whether the thing they’re sharing is true or not. It’s an extremely lazy reaction that allows false information to thrive, and makes otherwise intelligent people look like emotion-driven fools.

Recently Colorado decided to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Immediately afterward Facebook feeds were pasted with the sensational headline, “Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization”. People were losing their minds over this headline, and as well they should have…had it been even the tiniest bit true. The article was posted on a website called The Daily Currant, a website which, when searched for on Google, comes up with the subtitle: The Global Satirical Newspaper of Record. But no one bothered to visit the website. They simply saw the headline, got mad, and shared the link without ever looking into the facts. Whether you agree or disagree with the legalization of marijuana, this is a terrible method for getting your point across.

We are emotional creatures, it’s true. We hate waiting and love moving at breakneck speeds. It’s in our nature. But when we use the internet in the manner I’ve described above, we make ourselves look stupid. We paint a picture of ourselves as gullible fools and destroy any faith that others may have in us as a reliable source. We ruin our image. And a lot of the time, no one even bothers to let us know how foolish we’ve been, because fools like to try to argue and defend themselves, which only makes them look even more foolish.

I won’t claim that I’ve never fallen for such a thing myself – I’m fairly certain all of us have tripped over a false claim here and there – but I will point out that blindly believing in something that sparks an emotional reaction is how we end up with situations like this.

Do a little research, friends. The same tool that allows you to share big scary news reports with everyone you’ve ever met, and everyone they’ve ever met, is the same tool that can help you get your facts straight in just a few short moments.

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 48: NaNo Edition

Friends, I have been blogging on this site faithfully every Monday through Friday for many months now without missing a single scheduled day, so I hope you will kindly forgive me for my lack of post yesterday, Monday, December the 2nd. You see, on Friday (Black Friday, you might remember) my husband, daughter and I drove an hour and a half away to do some shopping. Fun times were had by all. Then, on Saturday, I had many, many things to do to get ready for my daughter’s birthday, which was accentuated by the fact that my sister-in-law and her daughter (my daughter’s cousin) came up to hang out with us a day early and have a sleepover. Then on Sunday I woke up early to decorate, survived a birthday party with friends and family, and then helped wrangle the daughter and the cousin all night while they played with the daughter’s new toys and generally had a major sugar high happening. Then, yesterday, when I really should have been resting after three days of non-stop stuff-to-do, we went shopping again and didn’t get home until almost 8 pm.

The seven or so hours of sleep I got last night were not enough. I’m just throwing that out there.

Also, I plan to spend at least one straight week doing nothing but playing video games. That is, as soon as we get the house decorated for Christmas (*cry*).

2013-Participant-Facebook-CoverHealth and Body Image Goal

Please see above paragraphs.

Seriously though, I’ve been having a few stomach-related hiccups that I assume are based on being too busy and perhaps a little stressed out, but I’ve actually been feeling half-decent lately and strangely I’ve lost a few pounds. I’m really not sure how, but there it is. Keep it up, body. Keep it up.

Editing Goal

November is officially over, which means that I can get back into the editing mode, but I don’t have anything to report this week because of [see above paragraph again]. Cut me some slack. It’s only been December for two days now.

1,000,000 Word Goal

I’m not going to tell you to see the above paragraph again, but you get the idea. Obviously I didn’t do any writing during that four days of madness spoken about at the beginning of this post, but I did get a hell of a lot done in the three days before that madness. I was determined to get NaNoWriMo over with before I had to start focusing entirely on the daughter’s birthday party, so I wrote like a complete maniac during Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and the result of those three days was a word count total of 11056 words. Not bad for three days, eh? I have to say, I was pretty proud of myself. That brings me up to just under 450,000 words. That means I have to do another 50,000 words this month in order to make it to half a mill, but I will tell you this right now. I am not going to stress over it. I would love to make that mark, but dammit, it’s Christmas. I’m not going to spend the entire month hunched over my laptop. 😛

NaNoWriMo Goal

As mentioned above, I wrote like a maniac during the first three days of last week, and the results were spectacular…I won! I validated my novel on the NaNoWriMo website and officially won my fifth NaNo out of the six that I participated in! I’m quite happy about that, if not a little exhausted. Most of my novel turned out to be complete and utter crap, but I really think there are some key things in there that I can work with to create something decent…that is, someday when I’m finished with all the other stuff I’m working on. 🙂

Thus ends another writing race season. I am definitely going to have a little relax now, please and thanks. 🙂

Step Back – Deep Breath – Shop Responsibly

Friends, family members, countrymen… I have a request of you. It is a simple request that will do us both a world of good, I assure you. My request is thus:

Do not absolutely lose your mind tomorrow over Black Friday sales.

Image borrowed from

This request comes a tad too late, which is the first part of the problem. My American friends have assured me that the insanity I’ve been reading about on the internet is true…this year many retailers are starting their Black Friday sales on Thursday, more importantly known as American Thanksgiving.

There is so much wrong with this move, least of all not the fact that, hey, retailers, it’s called Black FRIDAY for a reason. But the real issue, of course, is the demeaning of a national holiday. This move shows a complete and utter lack of respect for both the holiday and the retailers’ employees. Instead of spending a bit of time with their families and sitting down to a nice meal, countless sales associates are going to be trapped at the center of the insanity, being screamed at by crazy shoppers who didn’t get the precise sale they came there for.

And don’t even talk to me about getting paid overtime for the holiday. I’ve worked in sales on Black Friday. Time and a half is not nearly enough for that kind of abuse.

American friends, please stay home today. Believe me, I understand the lure of great sales when it comes time to open your wallet for Christmas presents, but no sale is worth this. If you keep encouraging the retailers they will continue to think that this kind of thing is perfectly alright, and mark my words, next year they’ll start their sales at midnight as Thanksgiving day rolls in.

Black Friday in Canada has never been as big a deal as in America, but I would like to take this moment to speak to my fellow Canucks as well. Do not lose your mind tomorrow. Sales are great, sales are awesome, and I myself will be out there hoping to find some things on the cheap. But sales are not worth spiking your blood pressure so high that everyone around you worries your head might explode. Sales are not worth driving from store to store like Mario Andretti and winding up in a pointless, avoidable accident. Sales are not worth verbally abusing sales associates who have absolutely no power over how many of a particular item a store gets in stock. Sales are not worth making yourself and everyone else around you miserable.

Trust me, everyone. You’ll feel a lot better at the end of the day if you go into Black Friday with a calm breath and an attitude of it not being a big deal if you don’t get the sales you’re hoping for.

Plus, hey…there’s always Cyber Monday.

To Avoid Holiday Insanity, Please Follow Me

This slightly late, fatigue-riddled post is brought to you by a mother who loves Christmas and loathes shopping.

Ladies and Gents, there are less than six weeks to shop before Christmas, and while that may seem like plenty I’m here to tell you that it is NOT. As I mentioned before, my husband and I have a method of shopping for Christmas all year through…if we see something in January that we think is a good gift for someone, we’ll pick it up. But we do still do some actual shopping coming up to the holidays because obviously.

Yesterday we made one of those such shopping trips to the city, hoping to tie things up as best we could so we wouldn’t have to worry about it. I won’t say that the stores and malls were packed, but for a Wednesday they were pretty darn busy.

And here’s the thing. It’s only going to explode from here on out. You just watch; before you know what happened it’s going to take you an hour and half a bottle of Advil just to pick up some milk after work.

This is the definition of hell, RIGHT HERE. – Image via

Tonight, at midnight, stores are going to be having late night releases of the Playstation 4. Shortly after, there will be similar releases for the XBox One. This is the first stage in insanity, because no matter how hard you try to explain to people that something is the biggest device of the season and that “we’re all sold out dammit, and no we’re not hiding any in the back, why the hell would we do that?”, people will still flood the stores, kicking and screaming and positively losing their minds because they weren’t on-the-ball enough to pre-order the most important thing that their loved one wants for Christmas. The stores will be packed with these people from tomorrow straight up to Christmas Eve, mark my words.

The second stage in the insanity comes two weeks from now. I’m not sure how many people have noticed this besides my husband and I, but I’m willing to bet it’s not many…see, because of the timing of US Thanksgiving this year, Black Friday lands at the very end of the month. The sales and warnings (ONLY X-NUMBER OF DAYS LEFT, DAMMIT!) that prompt people to run to the stores with credit card in hand are coming late this year, which can only incite further “Oh crap, I haven’t started shopping yet!” panic. On a similar note, Cyber Monday (which, reasonably, comes after Black Friday) will also be late, meaning that the post and shipping companies are going to be slogged with goods purchased online that absolutely must make it to their destinations by Christmas even though they have significantly less time to do so than they have in the past. (In other words, if you’re planning on shipping something to a loved one for Christmas, you better take into consideration that delivery times are going to be much worse this year than they were last year).

The third stage in the insanity is, quite simply, the same stage we deal with every year. People wait until the last minute. They rush in with heads full of stress, short fuses, and no idea what they’re going to buy. They traipse into stores with only the vaguest idea of the toy their kid wants and expect every sales associate to know exactly what they’re talking about when all they can offer is broad descriptions like, “this princess” or “this superhero”. They don’t plan ahead, is what I’m getting at here.

I beg you, don’t be these people. These people are the reason that Christmas turns into a huge, stress-filled ball of anger and frustration. Plan ahead. Start shopping NOW (if you haven’t already), and put some effort into it beforehand. It’s really not that difficult to open a Sears Wish Book and get your kid to point to the exact toys they want, or get them to write a letter to Santa. And (though it’s too late now for the PS4 and XBox One), if someone you love is super-excited for something that’s highly anticipated enough to be having huge midnight-release parties all across the continent, you may want to consider getting that item ordered in advance. If there’s one thing everyone should have learned the year the Nintendo Wii came out it’s that just because you want it doesn’t mean that the stores are going to have it for you, especially of ten million other people want it at the same time.

This Christmas PSA brought to you by a woman who watches this stuff happen year after year and wonders how nobody ever seems to catch on.